Our Democracy


Our democracy is built on the basic premise that people—regardless of gender, creed, geography, states, or religion—are politically equal. One person, one vote.

Special interest money has long had a corrosive effect on our politics, but in 2010, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision unleashed a new era of unprecedented spending by a handful of millionaires and corporations on our elections.

The decision  opened the floodgates for big money in our elections, enabling a small number of mega-donors to drown out the voices of average Americans. In the 2012 election the top 32 donors to Super PACs, giving an average of $9.9 million each, contributed as much as every small donor to Obama and Romney combined

Fortunately, Citizens United also sparked a movement across the country to reclaim our democracy and pass a constitutional amendment to limit big money in elections. In the meantime, we're also working on several short-term strategies to stanch the flow of big money in our elections.

  • Taking the fight directly to corporate political donors (and would-be donors): We’re partnering with shareholder advocacy groups in pressing corporations such as Target and Bank of America to refrain from spending on political campaigns.
  • Forcing political spending into the light of day: Our researchers have documented the rise of Super PACs and other groups funneling secret money into our elections, and we're also prodding our state and federal lawmakers to implement more thorough disclosure laws.
  • Amplifying the power of small donors: Encouraging millions of everyday Americans to small contributions can help counterbalance the influence of special interests in our elections. We are working to implement programs like tax credits, campaign vouchers, and matching public funds to create a swell of grassroots funding.

Campaign Updates

News Release | Democracy


Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McCutcheon v. FEC to strike down overall, or aggregate, contribution limits to candidates and political committees. Maryland PIRG research found that this ruling could bring $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from fewer than 2,800 elite donors through the 2020 election cycle.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Democracy

Million Dollar Megaphones

Outside spending by organizations that aggregate unlimited contributions from wealthy individuals and institutions is playing a significant role in the 2012 election cycle, and much of it is not disclosed.

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News Release | Democracy

New Report Details Latest Numbers on Outside Spending, Secret Money and Super PAC Fundraising for 2012 Elections

WASHINGTON – The Top 5 “dark money” spenders on presidential election ads have reported less than 1% of their spending to the FEC, which is all that is required by the agency’s insufficient standards, according to a new report analyzing the latest campaign filings.

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